Artist: Taylor Swift
Released: October 27, 2014
Die-hard fans were obviously thrilled when Taylor Swift announced her fifth studio album, 1989, but the announcement may have caught more casual listeners’ attention for another reason: this album would be a formal departure from the country pop style that catapulted Swift to fame and fortune. Instead, 1989 would be Swift’s first ‘official’ pop album and the difference is felt right from the first track. The album’s predecessor, Red, crossed genres as well but not in nearly the same way that 1989 does – from the get go, 1989 sounds like Taylor Swift hired pop music’s legion of producers while staying well within her own comfort zone vocally. The final product isn’t half bad; the tracks sound like something straight out of a Lady Gaga or Lorde album with some influence from the last decade’s hipster movement while the vocals are classic Swift but with a twist. The songs are still about the hearts she breaks and has had broken but instead of the teenybopper pettiness there is a somewhat more mature acknowledgement of the difficulty of managing relationships and the nuances of the connections between ex-lovers. Swift’s new style might take some getting used to and there are certainly tracks that are more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’ but on the whole, the album is an excellent showcase of Swift’s creative range and her impressive vocal talents.